More books for eager reader
April 14, 2011 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me find appropriate books for my 3rd grade daughter who is a voracious reader.

My daughter reads a lot. She turns 9 in June and has already read over 500 books.

She has read the following series (this is only a partial list): the Boxcar Children, Narnia, Little House, Harry Potter, Prydain Chronicles, Droon, Magic Tree House, Unfortunate Events, Mary Poppins, Junie B. Jones, Rainbow Magic, and more.

I am looking for suggestions for books that she could read that are still appropriate for her age. I also read a lot as a kid, but I didn't really start reading until I was older than she is and so some of the books that I read as a kid don't seem age appropriate for her. It is especially helpful to have ideas for series because she goes through books quickly.
posted by bove to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (66 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Has she already read all of Edward Eager's and E. Nesbitt's books?
posted by likeso at 1:35 PM on April 14, 2011

Witch of Blackbird Pond
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Ann of Avonlea series
Understood Betsy
I'm pretty sure I read A Wrinkle in Time and the rest when I was 10.
(I also had read most of the Stephen King books available at the local library by 13, though, and am not any more screwed up than anybody else.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:36 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

around that age i read the anne of green gables series and little women, little men, etc.
posted by nadawi at 1:36 PM on April 14, 2011

oh, and depending on her likes - the goosebump series (i always preferred fear street and christopher pike, but i had to hide those from my parents).
posted by nadawi at 1:37 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Dear America Series.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lois Lenski wrote a ton of books and I read most of her historical novels when I was your daughter's age. I'd recommend them to any child who is a fan of the Little House series.

Has she read Judy Blume yet? Beverly Cleary? E. L. Konigsburg?

Oh, Jerry Spinelli was another huge favorite of mine, but he might be a year or two off yet, depending on her maturity level. Same with Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and The Secret Garden.
Has she discovered the poetry of Shel Silverstein yet?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:39 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Land of Oz books.
posted by bibliophibianj at 1:39 PM on April 14, 2011

Judy Blume
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:43 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

When I was that age I loved the Anastasia Krupnik books.

Also Hating Alison Ashley, which no one else I know has even heard of (could be because it's an Australian book and I'm in the US).
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:43 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Does she like horses? The Black Stallion series kept me going for quite a while at that age.
posted by platinum at 1:43 PM on April 14, 2011

came to suggest Zilpha Keatley Snyder, who was my absolute favorite childhood author, and she's very prolific. I was probably about your daughters age when I discovered her.

Mary Stewart wrote a very charming childrens book call The Littlest Broomstick
posted by supermedusa at 1:45 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

By the way, it's worth noting that not all Judy Blume books are written for the same age group. I learned this the embarrassing way by reading Forever when I was a little too young.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:45 PM on April 14, 2011

Oh! And The Melendy Quartet and the two Gone-Away Lake books by Elizabeth Enright. She also has other, non-series works, like Thimble Summer.
posted by likeso at 1:45 PM on April 14, 2011

The Ramona books
posted by btfreek at 1:48 PM on April 14, 2011 [7 favorites]

Everything by Noel Streathfield. And some horsey books by Marguerite Henry.
posted by Erasmouse at 1:48 PM on April 14, 2011

Oh and and Diana Wynne Jones!! Who just passed away, and raised a generation of children's writers.
posted by Erasmouse at 1:52 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

A couple of more recent books:

Moon over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin
The Underneath, Kathi Appelt
Lucky series (starting with The Higher Power of Lucky) by Susan Patron
Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer Holm
Holes by Louis Sachar
posted by Jeanne at 1:52 PM on April 14, 2011

My third grader is enjoying the Julia Gillian series very much.
posted by padraigin at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2011

The Redwall books by Brian Jacques.
posted by lawhound at 1:59 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

2nding Diana Wynne Jones. The first book of the Chrestomanci series, Charmed Life, seems like a particularly good choice to me.
posted by maryr at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2011

Joan Aiken! Start with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

And The Rescuers series by Margery Sharp

The Earthsea trilogy
(wait a bit for the fourth and fifth, they're a bit darker).

She may be a bit young for The Dark Is Rising series... but not by much. And have Diane Duane's Wizard series waiting in the wings. Next year, maybe two, to start.
posted by likeso at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2011

Oooh, also seconding Dark Is Rising (in a couple years).
posted by maryr at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2011

I was a voracious reader as a girl too! My favorites:

Matilda, and anything else by Roald Dahl.
Julie of the Wolves (has two sequels)
Hatchet (also has sequels)
His Dark Materials trilogy, starting with The Golden Compass*.
Ella Enchanted
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Beverly Cleary books like the Ramona Quimby series or The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
The Egypt Game
The American Girl series of books (warning: ties in with an expensive doll franchise)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Alice in Wonderland
A Little Princess
Tuck Everlasting
There is also a series of books that covers the childhood of Rose Wilder (the daughter of Laura Ingalls) starting with Little House on Rocky Ridge. They're definitely worth checking out.

*I can't say if this is appropriate for a nine year old; they didn't come out until I was 12 and the later books deal with some heavy topics.
posted by castlebravo at 2:03 PM on April 14, 2011 [5 favorites]

The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage (5 so far + supplemental volume) - soon to be a Major Motion Picture! (maybe)

I also like the Clarice Bean books (7 so far) for their Ramona-ish-ness. (plus I love Lauren Child in general)

If she's not afraid to dive into thick books, I'd second lawhound on the Redwall books.

Much shorter - The Borrowers books by Mary Norton (only 4).

Not a series, but anything by Andrew Clements is pure gold. Great handle on kids inner workings and double-plus bonus points for parents/guardians who aren't dead/abusive/checked out/clueless.

Probably n-thing at this point, but absolutely Roald Dahl.
posted by clerestory at 2:06 PM on April 14, 2011

Almost forgot: The Shamrogues. Possibly a bit obscure, but it's wonderful!
posted by bibliophibianj at 2:08 PM on April 14, 2011

My elementary school librarian was always really helpful in suggesting more books based on what I'd liked. She was my go-to person to ask for suggestions since neither of my parents were big readers as kids.
posted by elpea at 2:12 PM on April 14, 2011

....Nancy Drew? Not the height of literature, but they're cranking out books in that series even today.

You may also want to track down a copy of the book 1001 Children's Books you must read before you grow up. It's from the same people who wrote the "1001 books before you die" list, but deals with children's books; they're grouped into 3 or 4 chapters, by age group. You may find a couple suggestions in there.

Heh, I sympathize -- I was your daughter when I was also eight, and the local children's librarian ran into the same problems you're running into; I think she finally just threw me at the mystery section and gave up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:13 PM on April 14, 2011

Joan Aiken is one of the forgotten authors for that age range. She's probably most famous for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, but she's got a whole group of books using the same large pool of characters who bump into one another & interact. They're generally advanture books set in industrial England starring children dealing with disasterous changes in circumstances, a la some of Roald Dahl's work --also a great young readers author (James & the Giant Peach, Mathilda, The BFG, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Danny Champion of the World).
posted by Ys at 2:13 PM on April 14, 2011

All great suggestions here, but I wanted to note that I was in the 3rd grade when I first attempted reading an 'adult' book successfully. I hope you have a wide variety of books around the house she can access.

but I didn't really start reading until I was older than she

A point of contention I've had with my nephew (now age 13) is if he's "really" reading. Yes, he looks at every page in a book he says he's "read" -- but does he actually understand the action? (My questions to him, checking for comprehension, indicates that answer is no.) We know you need not understand every word to get adequate comprehension, but in my nephew's case I don't think he really cares -- he just wants to claim he "read" that book. So now, I'm skeptical when hearing kids brag about how many books they've "read."

(BTW my first real book was Kon-Tiki and I got it from the library, where I was allowed unaccompanied access by 3rd grade.)

posted by Rash at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2011

Oh, duh. If she's done Narnia, get Bridge to Terabithia. It's very age-appropriate, it's about kids who read the Narnia books, and is lovely.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:15 PM on April 14, 2011

Also, for an early taste of Historical Fiction, try Robert Lawson, author of Ben and Me and Mr. Revere & I.
posted by Ys at 2:17 PM on April 14, 2011

Half Magic, Ginger Pye, Mandy, and, yes, anything Roald Dahl.
posted by phunniemee at 2:20 PM on April 14, 2011

My eight-year-old also likes to read series. Some he's enjoyed recentlyish: Dragon Slayer's Academy, Captain Underpants, Deltora Quest and others by Emily Rodda.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:34 PM on April 14, 2011

I love the three Shiloh books. The first Shiloh book won the Newbery Award in 1992.

The Newbery Award is perhaps the most important award for Children's Literature. You might want to check the list of winners going back to 1922. There are some really great early reader books that won the Newbery over the years.
posted by Flood at 2:35 PM on April 14, 2011

Um, not anything Roald Dahl. His adult fiction is DEFINITELY not appropriate for a 9 year old girl.

And another enthusiastic vote for the Anastasia Krupnik and Sam Krupnik books. Not her other novels though - not yet.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:46 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recommend any of William Sleator's books. They're good for that age range and deal with tricky science in down-to-earth, easily-digested ways.

Interstellar Pig would be a good place to start.
posted by tacodave at 2:52 PM on April 14, 2011

I want to nth most of the books on here!
In addition:

Dealing with Dragons
With some guidance, clarification, and contextualizing, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (my 4th grade teacher read it to us)
Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan
Caddie Woodlawn (especially if she liked the Little House books)
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
The Watsons go to Birmingham 1963
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
The Invisible Thread
posted by ChuraChura at 2:56 PM on April 14, 2011

Response by poster: Wow these are some amazing answers. She has read some of the books mentioned here, but there are still lots of great ideas. She is definitely reading them and not just looking at the pages. I talk with her about many of the books.
posted by bove at 3:01 PM on April 14, 2011

The Warriors series could keep her busy for a good long while.
posted by lakeroon at 3:16 PM on April 14, 2011

My 8-year-old loves Geronimo Stilton (chapter books and graphic novels) and Bone (graphic novel series).

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was my favorite book at that age. It never gets any less awesome.

All-of-a-Kind Family - only the first book is still in print but if she likes it, your library will probably have the other four.
posted by Flannery Culp at 3:21 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I read The Hobbit when I was 10 and loved it. Seconding anything by L.M. Montgomery, especially the Anne of Green Gables books. I think I may not have been that much older when I started enjoying Agatha Christie mysteries, too. Obviously they all involve death, but are usually fairly sanitised. Anne Fine's books are brilliant and great for that kind of age and a little older. I believe Jacqueline Wilson is also very good.
posted by *becca* at 3:22 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I first read The Giver on my own in 3rd grade and really liked it, but it wasn't until I read it in again a couple of years later that I "got it".

It's still one of those books I pull out every now and then, along with the super-clever:

Roald Dahl anything
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Wayside School books
posted by GatorX3 at 3:26 PM on April 14, 2011

I read well above my age range from pretty early on - it was good that the local librarians and my parents were paying attention to what I was reading, but looking back, an awful lot of stuff went straight over my head, so I'd suggest not being too anxious about what's "age appropriate" but staying engaged with her reading: keep talking to her about it and see what questions she has, but even if she has the attention for adult books, what she gets out of a book isn't necessarily going to be what an adult does. I mean, I read Gone with the Wind around that age, and mostly remember the descriptions of Scarlett's dresses.

Nine was about the age where I started getting interested in biographies, so it might be good to try pointing her toward some narrative non-fiction. I loved Tamora Pierce's books and Madeleine L'Engle's and Scott O'Dell's, Nancy Drew (and the Bobbsey Twins, and the Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden), Pippi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, the Little House books - but I would read just about anything I could get my hands on. I remember particularly liking some old English Lit textbooks that were laying around (lots of short stories, narrative poems, and excerpts from longer works), and my Dad's Time-Life series on WWII.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:29 PM on April 14, 2011

I read Jurassic Park in 3rd grade. In retrospect, probably not the best idea.

Heartily nth Roald Dahl (the children books, of course), Anne of Green Gables, Beverly Cleary... when I was in 3rd grade I devoured Babysitter's Club books like they were cake, but I fully admit that they're not that great and probably very dated now.

Really, my favorite thing in the ENTIRE WORLD to do in elementary school was to be let loose in the public library, roaming the JV and YA stacks and coming out with a stack taller than my head. Definitely pursue some of the suggestions in this thread, but don't underestimate how exciting it is to choose for yourself!
posted by sarahsynonymous at 3:52 PM on April 14, 2011

Harriet the Spy!
posted by kirst27 at 3:56 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Encyclopedia Brown! Oh, I loved those books when I was ten. So awesome.

If your daughter enjoys Nancy Drew, I would also recommend Trixie Belden. I got into a bit of a scrap on the blue once for saying this, but I thought Trixie was way cooler than Nancy.

Tamora Pierce is an amazing fantasy author for teens and pre-teens. When I was your daughter's age, I was really into the Alanna series (The Song of the Lioness). The latter books do have some YA content but if she's read Harry Potter, she should have no problems. Pierce has also written several series aimed at younger readers, starting with Circle of Magic. I was too old when they came out to get into them, but they have a lot of fans.

The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy is a lot of fun.

Enid Blyton wrote hundreds of books for children, though not all of them have aged well. My favourite was The Faraway Tree series.

Also, have you considered non-fiction? I was a big non-fiction reader as a kid, and loved books on How Things Work that would explain things like why the sky is blue or how white blood cells fight infection.
posted by Georgina at 3:57 PM on April 14, 2011

The Indian in the Cupboard series is good.
posted by deborah at 4:17 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Terry Pratchett! Starting with the Tiffany Aching books.

Also, do a search for Accelerated Reader book lists - I read a ton of books for that program in third and fourth grades.
posted by beandip at 6:05 PM on April 14, 2011

I would recommend the Green Knowe series by Lucy M. Boston. Also try The Haunting by Margaret Mahy.
posted by gudrun at 6:29 PM on April 14, 2011

The Twenty-One Balloons was one of my absolute favorite books when I was her age, and for many years beyond.
posted by enlarged to show texture at 7:54 PM on April 14, 2011

The Betsy-Tacy series! Follows them from age five to early twenties, with each book being written at a more advanced level. Probably the first few for now, with the older books for later. Another historical series is All of a Kind Family. This series is a wonderful view of Jewish family culture, too.

Big yes to Anastasia Krupnik and Beverly Cleary, as well.
posted by pekala at 9:35 PM on April 14, 2011

Enthusiastically seconding the Redwall books! They're exciting, imaginative, and detailed, as well as age-appropriate. There are about a zillion of them (ok...22) and they're all big hefty tomes; Redwall kept me busy for ages as a voracious-reader-child!
posted by ootandaboot at 9:50 PM on April 14, 2011

Lloyd Alexander is great. I read a lot of him in 5th grade, and they might be a bit challenging for a 3rd grader, but you never know. I thought Wales was the coolest place on earth for years afterward.
posted by ropeladder at 10:04 PM on April 14, 2011

Seconding the Dear America series.
posted by CorduroyCorset at 10:53 PM on April 14, 2011

Jacqueline Wilson's books
and most of David Almond's
posted by sianifach at 1:56 AM on April 15, 2011

James Herriot's books, starting with All Creatures Great and Small, which are the tales of a rural vet in the Yorkshire countryside.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 4:20 AM on April 15, 2011

Lloyd Alexander (Book of Three and following) is fun reading, though Alexander's a mediocre writer to be honest. If your daughter likes fantasy/scifi, you could try John Christopher's Tripod trilogy, starting with The White Mountains.

Definitely LM Montgomery. A 10-year-old is probably a bit young to identify with the later Anne books, but she could definitely get started with the first couple in the series, and the writing is advanced enough for her to find it challenging.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer (and following that, Huck Finn)--which, obviously, require some oversight.

I second Lois Lowry, and also the recommendation that you look up Newbery awards for a list of must-reads. One of my favorites ever is Carry On, Mr Bowditch; I don't know how many times I've read it.

Not recommending this as great literature, but Twilight would tie her up for a while. It's not darker than Harry Potter. My daughter read these at 11 and liked them.
posted by torticat at 5:23 AM on April 15, 2011

So many good recs here already, and I will add The Great Brain books by John Dennis Fitzgerald, and anything by John Bellairs, especially if she likes scary stuff.
posted by mskyle at 6:21 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem with my second grader who can read very quickly and far beyond her grade level, but still has an 8 year old's interest level and understanding. She's read most of the books you've listed. Other series she loves are ABC Mysteries (she wrote her first fan letter to author Ron Roy), American Girl books, Nancy Drew (she prefers the "Clue Crew" series), Babysitters Club, and Encyclopedia Brown. She's also been reading comics lately - she just read the first two issues of a comic book version of Emma that looks better than I would have expected. We've tried to introduce her to a few classics, but she mostly prefers the modern stuff. She was too bored to finish The Secret Garden (the only book I think she's ever left unfinished), and she was 'meh' about Peter Pan but she did enjoy Alice in Wonderland, Stuart Little, and Charlotte's Web. She's also read quite a bit of non-fiction - Egypt is a favorite topic.

I highly recommend the advanced search at AR Bookfinder. It will let you specify an interest level, reading level, and genre. We used the hell out of that to find other possibilities when we couldn't convince her to read anything other than Junie B Jones books (over and over and over and over).
posted by Dojie at 6:33 AM on April 15, 2011

Agree about James Herriot books, and also Gerald Durrell books which are entertaining and wittily penned.

When I was 10, I also enjoyed Asterix and Obelix comics, as well as the Far Side cartoons.

It was also about this time my mum started throwing me things like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and other such classics. I didn't fully understand them but enjoyed the challenge of reading "grownup books" and being able to discuss their storyline with aunties and older cousins!
posted by shazzam! at 8:36 AM on April 15, 2011

Norma Klein's books are out of print, but there should be some at the library.

Five Little Peppers
Eleanor Estes
posted by brujita at 11:04 AM on April 15, 2011

Nthing Ramona, Krupnik, Charlotte's Web, All of a Kind Family.

Adding the Paddington Bear series. :)
posted by luckynerd at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2011

Danny the Champion of the World

Also, when I was about that age my father read Tom Sawyer and then Huckleberry Finn to me. Those may seem a little advanced for a third grader but Tom Sawyer is absolutely fine for that age (there's another lesser known book, Tom Sawyer Detective too) and Huckleberry Finn might have been a little advanced but it worked.

Grimm's fairy tales.

My Dad also gave me treasure island and gulliver's travels to read (there was some kind of children's literary classic series) when I was about that age. That may have been over the top though. I'm not sure how much I understood of what I was reading.

But still, I think it's better to read up and challenge a kid who is a voracious reader.
posted by bananafish at 12:23 PM on April 15, 2011

If your daughter loves animals I recommend the "Bunnicula" series by James Howe.
posted by parakeetdog at 8:40 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

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